Planet Iron Blogger SF

April 16, 2021


I am always interested to see how different creators work behind...

I am always interested to see how different creators work behind the scenes. If anyone is curious, here’s my photo set up: sheets of paper and a scrapbooking paper book to create my colored environments. For larger scenes I use a drape of fabric instead. ⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #meetthemaker #behindthescene #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 16, 2021 04:20 PM

April 15, 2021


I’m still playing with handle ideas. I like the slab tab...

I’m still playing with handle ideas. I like the slab tab on this design.⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 15, 2021 04:20 PM

April 14, 2021


This cute little family, including a kiddie-sized wiggle mug...

This cute little family, including a kiddie-sized wiggle mug just made it to Berlin for @nadinenitzsche. Miss you sweetie, I wish I could deliver them myself! ❤️⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 14, 2021 05:20 PM

April 13, 2021


Stacking cups.⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

Stacking cups.⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 13, 2021 04:20 PM

Claire Kao

༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ missing and loving animals

yesterday, I had the completely silly experience of meeting a pack of 5 alpacas

alpaca approach compressed.gif

I learned alpacas are an entirely domesticated breed, and are distant relatives of the camel 🐫. They like being around people, but don't particularly like being petted/touched ⛔👉🏻👈🏻⛔

a group of alpacas is actually called a herd, but I think a pack o' alpacas sounds funnier

It was completely joyful and emotionally restorative, and highlighted how intensely without animals I have been during the pandemic. Normally, I do okay on a steady diet of dog-sitting and finding my way to dogs anywhere and everywhere (see: dream facial), but obviously there's been none of that the past year: dawgs-min.png
(photos pre-March 2020 😭)

So when a local veterinarian heard I was wild about all things furry and funny, he offered to have me meet his own personal pack of furry funny ones.

I love that domesticated animals pretty much follow the rule of loving as long as loving is to be had (and food). At the end of the day, all we're really here to do is feel safe and secure in our bodies. We do this by eating some food, getting rest, pursuing good feelings, loving, and doing some loving. So being around animals feels emotionally regulating because these needs and motivations are completely transparent, which is not always the case with good ole human beans and their beliefs in power and property, ego and entitlement, complicated traumas, long memories, and convoluted paths to self-actualization

"why don't u have a dog already". BELIEVE ME I'm trying! But I'm waiting for the right doggie and the right time, so any and all adoption tips please let me know. Because I'm never happier than when:
(as captured and posted to Dogspotting by a ♪ stranger ♪)

by Claire ( at April 13, 2021 04:31 AM

I Like Turtles



April 13, 2021 04:00 AM

April 12, 2021


Wiggle mug 🐛⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

Wiggle mug 🐛⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 12, 2021 04:20 PM

Certainly Strange

The Tequila Patrón Bike

Doc got me a Tequila Patrón bike, and I need you all to really appreciate all the ridiculous little details Including corks in the handlebars

by Steen at April 12, 2021 06:17 AM

Claire Kao

🍝 rao's pronounced ray-oh's 🍝

in 2016, I became aware of Rao's in two different ways and I don't remember which came first. 

1. one night I came home to my roommate making a nice heaping plate of simple spaghetti and tomato sauce. I sat down to say hello and he proudly showed me the tomato sauce he was using: Rao's. He said this was the very best tomato sauce, a true chef's kiss of tomato sauces. He fixed me up a plate and I loved it.

2. At the time, I was working in commercial high-rise construction in downtown Manhattan. Construction is intense, emotional, and antagonistic, but the job can also involve huge amounts of downtime. Spending lots of time waiting around on site meant that my day-to-day was a constant low-level hum of shooting the shit. I heard the most unbelievable, mundane, heartfelt, silly, absurd, insulting, and rude things day in and day out. It was in one of these conversations that someone started telling me all about Rao's: "what, you've never heard of Rao's?" (the reason it's possible this story came second is because I probably thought the tomato sauce my roommate was using was pronounced "rouse"). The man goes on to describe the holy grail of Italian cooking, the best meal you'll ever have, a place to have dinner next to all manner of celebrities and politicians. I was flabbergasted: here I am frequenting my Resy/Eater/Infatuation-appointed restaurants, and I've never heard of the most famous name in Italian dining?? He was clearly very excited to have found an innocent, and he let me in on a little secret that I wrote in my iPhone Notes app:
The guy at the door's name is Johnny Roast Beef. Tell him Joey Pinballs sent you.PNG

The man literally said: 

The guy at the door's name is Johnny Roast Beef. Tell him Joey Pinballs sent you ( ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡°)

Everyone always asks me if I ever saw or learned of any NYC/mafia connections while working in construction. I think this cartoonish moment was the closest I ever got? The caricature here gets even wilder when you google Johnny Roast Beef and discover Martin Scorsese was so enamored by the guy that he cast him to be himself as a character in Goodfellas.

Though I never ended up going to the fabled restaurant on Joey Pinballs' suggestion, 

I did take all this to heart, and I've ended up ordering from their online store (Rao's Homemade) regularly throughout the pandemic. My new favorite pantry staples are Rao's soups:
Rao's soup recommendations: Sausage & Potato; Italian Wedding

But *plot twist* though I never used Mr. Pinballs' good name to get me one of Rao's highly sought-after 10 tables, 

I did end up going to the resto this past week because of their pandemic-adjusted takeout operation!! I texted the manager Marc, as suggested by The Infatuation, and had the weirdest, most pain-free takeout texting order conversation:

Texts with Marc the Manager.png
I absolutely love the handwritten GuestCheck™ sent in an iPhone photo 

We showed up at 6:30, eagerly collected our tidily packaged Italian goodness, talked to Marc for a minute or two, and then walked over to the park across the street for what ended up being a perfect lil date night.

Rao's Label.png
on the left: the label IRL; on the right: the label I'm typically slumped in front of during an average weekday lunch


by Claire ( at April 12, 2021 04:40 AM


Speeding toward a red light in an NYC taxi cab

Speeding toward a red light in an NYC taxi cab

April 12, 2021 03:53 AM


how to see the other side:everyday I see Limuw Island from my...

how to see the other side:

everyday I see Limuw Island from my bed, my window, my backyard. 

this weekend I saw it the other way around.

grateful to visit a place where the Chumash lived for thousands of years, a place they still deserve to call home

April 12, 2021 02:57 AM

Doctor Popular

Savory Potato Waffles

Christine bought a wonderful waffle maker and we’ve been loving it. My favorite recipe so far has been doing shredded potato waffles. I’m using this recipe with a few changes. The biggest change is I’m using frozen shredded potatoes because it saves so much time.

The post Savory Potato Waffles appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at April 12, 2021 02:51 AM

I before E except Gleitzman

Theoretical Windmills

No stroll through Montecito, once a haven for bandits and highway robbers, would be complete without a visit to the Music Academy Of The West, an “institution of musical learning.”

The well-to-do John Percival and Mary Jefferson, while vacationing in Spain during the Santa Barbara earthquake of 1925, sent back a shipment of tiles depicting the story of Don Quixote, which Mary used to decorate a small courtyard at the Academy.

April 12, 2021 01:51 AM

Diegetic Games

Decks of Prompts

Decks of prompts are one of my favorite design elements in storytelling games. They are incredibly versatile in how they can be combined and deployed to shape storytelling experiences. The following is an incomplete list of ways you can use decks in your game design.

Types of Prompts

A deck of prompts can serve myriad roles: character generation, scenes, enemies, quests, encounters, backstory building questions, dilemmas, locations, resolutions. You can design an entire game solely on prompts or you can choose to make prompts small part in a much larger game.

Answering Prompts

Prompts can be answered individually or collectively and in first person or third. You might answer a prompt about a specific character you control or about the shared world or story.

Sequencing Prompts: Ordered vs Shuffled

Decks can be pre-arranged to a specific order or they can be shuffled. An ordered sequence can provide instructions or convey a pre-written narrative. A randomized deck introduces novelty and uncertainty – each playthrough will be different. For the Queen introduces the rules via an ordered deck and then uses a shuffled deck to generate prompts for the rest of the game.

Inserting Cards

You can randomly insert cards into a shuffled deck to add some uncertainty to when a key event will happen or to regulate the length of a game. For the Queen has players add a card which triggers the ending into the center of the deck for a short game or the end of the deck for a long game.

Multiple Decks

Using multiple decks opens up a vast design space with many possible approaches. Here are a few:

  • Sequential decks: play proceeds through one deck at a time, in a fixed order (e.g. the seasons in The Quiet Year or the act structure in Clash at Ikara). You can have short, ordered decks in between shuffled decks to provide new instructions for how to use each deck.
  • Phased decks: play rotates among several decks in a loop (e.g. travel, escapade, and city decks in Around the Realm).
  • Composite: You can assemble a prompt by drawing from multiple decks and combining the result. For example, you could generate a scene by drawing from a location, an enemy, and an ally deck.
  • Player’s choice: players can choose which deck to draw from on any given turn. Depending on the game, decks might be location based or thematic.
  • Asymmetric play: each player has their own deck to draw from. The decks could be tied to character archetypes, factions, or perhaps GM vs Player Character.

Ways to Draw

There are multiple ways that players can draw cards from decks, which give players different amounts of agency. Some options:

  • Just pick the top card of the deck
  • Draw the top card, but you can keep redrawing until you find something you like
  • Draw multiple cards and pick one to use
  • Draw a hand of cards and on your turn, play one of your choice

Decks and Game State

Card prompts can easily affect other parts of the game. You might have cards explicitly say which part of the game state they affect or you can give players a choice of what values to change. The video game Reigns shows off how you can tie card-based prompts to a simple game state in a powerful way.

Cards vs Random Tables

Drawing from a deck of prompts and rolling on a table are very similar activities. Consider which approach is optimal for your specific game – cards are shareable and can remain out once drawn; tables can be skimmed at a glance and the reader can choose their favorite option.

Standard Playing Cards

You can always pair a standard deck of playing cards with a reference table that tells you how to interpret each card. If you’re using this approach, consider assigning meaning to the different suits and to face cards vs number cards.

Check out Story Synth!

Interested in making deck based storytelling games? Story Synth is a free platform for designing, playing, and sharing games and it supports most of the deck formats discussed above. Check it out at

April 12, 2021 01:00 AM

April 11, 2021

travis vachon

April 07, 2021


What would you put in these bowls? I’m craving a hearty...

What would you put in these bowls? I’m craving a hearty bean soup. ⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 07, 2021 05:20 PM

April 06, 2021


I love the classic look of white satin glaze on speckle buff...

I love the classic look of white satin glaze on speckle buff clay, the raw rim sanded smooth. ⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 06, 2021 05:20 PM

I Like Turtles



April 06, 2021 04:00 AM

April 05, 2021


Another commission for @amiehackimer. She may be one of my...

Another commission for @amiehackimer. She may be one of my biggest fans 😘⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 05, 2021 05:20 PM

Certainly Strange

Claire Kao

love letter to cinema culture in nyc

at my happiest, 

- I'm going to the movies several times a week (mainly repertory)
- only a few people are at the screening
- I'm able to sit in my favorite seat and exit quickly through a quiet little side door
- I recognize a person or two and we might say a brief hello between screenings

and there's no better place to do this than in New York City, with the most dedicated little group of weirdos old and young. After moving here in 2010 and diving headfirst into NY's repertory scene, it's the main reason why I believe I can't live anywhere else in the world. And it's something I'm so, so eager to return to.

Thankfully, none of my favorite cinemas have closed their doors permanently, and in fact several of them have reopened! (Quad on March 5th, Film Forum on April 2nd). Reopening now is still a complicated ordeal, and not all of my favorite spots are taking the plunge just yet

I watched a lot of movies at home this year, and was even able to have some transcendent experiences. Standouts were: High Life (top, on Amazon Prime) and Portrait of Jason (bottom, on Criterion Channel)

High Life (2018).gif
Portrait of Jason (1967).gif
High Life: neither optimistic nor pessimistic, a movie that photographs and portrays an existential abyss. super high-sheen and absolutely gorgeous. Portrait of Jason: a claustrophobic one-room, black-and-white one-man-play that ranges from unvanquished joy to comic despair

But it quite frankly just wasn't the same. Sitting in a movie theater is captivating and all-encompassing. A silent communion and worship. I feel completely at home, completely safe, and in congregation with others being carried away in the same ways. 

So here are some of my favorite New York cinema experiences throughout the years. Experiences that would not have been possible without physical spaces carved out specially for film and without NYC's ardent cinema-lovers: 

The Birds @ Cineplex Odeon (now Cinepolis Chelsea). The first time I saw the Birds was in a bright room on a tiny TV set. What, this movie, scary??
A couple years later I saw The Birds again, this time at Cineplex Odeon. I was absolutely riveted with fear and sweating my shirt through. The consuming blackness of the theater around the frame of the screen made it feel as though birds were going to furiously rain down upon us at any moment. This was the night I went from someone who liked movies a lot to a full arthouse convert.

The Birds (1963).gif
you know exactly what is behind the door, but this knowledge doesn't prevent the scene from being one of pure terror

Burning @ Quad. This doesn't count as repertory, but Quad has my favorite new release programming (and a very good repertory mix anyhow). I saw this with my dear friend Simon, and we walked away in a shimmering silence. I tried watching this on Netflix a year later at home and couldn't recreate the revelations of the first time watching in theater.

Burning (2018).gif
the most unsettling, eerie Steven Yeun performance for all the stans out there

Hotel Monterey @ BAM Cinematek during a Chantal Akerman retrospective. A movie I certainly would not have been able to sit through if lounging on a couch or in a bed at home looking at a TV screen, yet a completely rapturous, entrancing experience in-theater.

Hotel Monterey (1972).gif
62 minutes of silent long takes. there's simply no way to watch this movie outside of a theater

Lost Highway @ the IFC Center (a theater I try to avoid, but sometimes they have good runs I will admit). This movie destabilized my sense of reality. I feel a bit as though it brought me to a secondary universe that I am now living in and I sometimes wonder if I'm ever going back.
But also IFC kept on experiencing technical issues where the audio track and visual were out of sync by several minutes (something that did not make itself clear until about 15 minutes into the movie because there is no dialogue for the first couple of opening sequences). So we had to go back three times (yes the audio and visual were out of sync not once, but twice). A completely frustrating and inconvenient experience, but also it was hilarious in its own way and in line with Lynchian chaos, and only heightened the mind-altering experience that followed.

Lost Highway (1997).gif
mystery man's lip color here is also my preferred lipstick color

Les Trois Couronnes du Matelot @ Film Society Lincoln Center for a Raul Ruiz retrospective. A film that perfectly captured the ethereal lush senseless degravitational quality of dreams. It often feels like poetry in cinema is a competition for most dream-like filmmaking, and it's possible Raul Ruiz takes the cake in that regard. And I would never have been aware of Ruiz if not for FilmLinc's programming!

Les Trois Couronnes du Matelot (1983).gif
the most meta-riffic scene of film-making/film-going

Scenes from a Marriage @ my beloved Film Forum. My most vivid recent memory of Film Forum would have to be seeing the entire Scenes from a Marriage in one go. It's perhaps not recommended for one's psychological health to watch all 6 episodes in one sitting but having the opportunity and space to is truly rare

Scenes from a Marriage (1973).gif
it upsets me that in all my searches for GIFs of Scenes from a Marriage, GIPHY only showed scenes from m*rr**ge st*ry        (╯‵□′)╯︵┻━┻

Honorable mentions: Anthology Film Archives and Spectacle Theater
Dishonorable mention: Metrograph. I will never step foot in Metrograph

by Claire ( at April 05, 2021 04:55 AM

Doctor Popular

Bear Eats A Rabbit Test part II

A few months back I watched a great video called “I Want My Son Back” about whether or not Artificial Intelligence could understand the plat of “I Want My Hat Back”. I was so inspired by the video that I wrote a quick version of “I Want My Hat Back” in AI Dungeon to see what the AI would come up with.

Part two of the video series about about AI is out and my little AI Dungeon experiment got mentioned in it.

The post Bear Eats A Rabbit Test part II appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at April 05, 2021 04:33 AM


Diegetic Games

Quest Log Noodling

The last six months I’ve been pretty engrossed in Story Synth design. I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far and will continue adding new features and making new games with, but I’m starting to think about some off-platform games, too.

One idea I keep returning to is the riffing on the giant quest logs that accumulate in games like Skyrim or Fallout – where the hero picks up tons and tons of side quests and objectives that get tracked and plotted across the map.

I think there’s probably a fun game that involves building out a giant log of quests and using it as a way to worldbuilding on a map. There’d probably be one overarching quest but a big part of play is coming up the side quests:

  • Prerequisites for completing the main quest
  • Quests that relate to your traveling companions
  • Quests given by random townsfolk or factions

I’m not sure the best platform for this game. If could work well in Airtable, where it’s easy to track quests, factions, and locations. It also might work well in a tool like Notion or Roam. One big question is how much a visual map would play a role. I think it’d be fun to have a map scattered with icons but that adds a bit of complexity to the project rather than it being purely text based.

A different direction (though a compatible one) might have an emphasis on quest rewards. I could see an interesting fast-paced storytelling game where the initial phase is about creating a bunch of quests and the related rewards. Then, the focus shifts to quickly saying how the quests are completed, often by using the rewards from previous quests. This might be a fun with with a big stack of quest and reward cards.

Lots of fun ideas in this direction – I’ll post any updates here as I explore the design space!

April 05, 2021 04:00 AM

I before E except Gleitzman

April 04, 2021

Raymond Cheng

travis vachon

April 03, 2021

Vivek Sri

sTonED in Cyberspace

Two years ago I attended my first sTonED talks. On a small stage in a Berkeley backyard diverse speakers presented whoa-dude talks to a mostly stoned audience.

I was one of those speakers. My talk was even awarded the not-coveted “Thanks I Hated It Award”: a construction paper star hot glued to a bowling trophy. I’ve never been prouder of anything in my whole life.

It’s happening again on April 17, 2021 and you are invited. Email me if you’d like to present. All are welcome.

by sTonED in Cyberspace at April 03, 2021 04:15 AM

April 02, 2021


😴⁠ ⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...


#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 02, 2021 04:20 PM

March 30, 2021

Matt Spitz

Working with me

Every few years, I update a document that lists my values, my modus operandi, and a few fun facts.

Here’s my latest, written at Vanta in March of 2021.

What I value

  • Delivering impact: I want my team to take on important work, deliver it, and take pride in the impact we’re having for our customers. There are too many important things for Vanta to do that we can’t waste time on what isn’t. It’s critical that we validate what’s most impactful for Vanta and prioritize accordingly.
  • Empowering my team: My preference is to empower my team to take on new responsibilities and support them where needed. I’m often surprised with how quickly people take to new opportunities, and I’d prefer not to leave the training wheels on for too long. Sometimes, I take this too far and end up stretching people beyond what they’re ready for.
  • Giving and getting feedback: I will give you feedback, and I expect you to give me feedback. It’s the fastest way to build trust and to grow together. Don’t be shy.
  • Growing people: I’m interested in my team’s individual success, both at Vanta and beyond. If you’re pushing yourself and are ready to expand your scope, I will find ways to empower you and give you feedback. However, I will not be more invested in your career than you are. I will match whatever effort you want to put into your growth, but I won’t drag you along.
  • Diversity and inclusivity: I believe that diverse teams that trust one another build better products, deliver more business impact, and, ultimately, accelerate Vanta. I will do my best to increase the diversity of our team (particularly of gender, race, and sexual orientation), and I expect managers to do the same. Further, I expect managers to steward an inclusive culture on their teams in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and will strive for the same myself. Please let me know if there’s anything you think can be improved here. I welcome your ideas and suggestions!
  • Bringing our best selves to work: You can’t control everything about your job, much less your life, but you can control who shows up at your desk. Bring a positive attitude, celebrate your teammates’ wins, help your teammates grow, work hard, try your best, and always be learning. In private, please let me know how I can support you in any way, professionally or personally.

How I work

  • I believe that everything is a choice and that there are few truly immutable constraints. I operate best when discussing tradeoffs rather than discussing only the merits of a single proposal. When presenting ideas, please share the framework you use to evaluate success and alternatives to what you’re proposing!
  • I prefer to try new things and retrospect instead of finding ideal solutions, particularly for team processes. Our work environment changes frequently, and existing processes grow stale quickly. Let’s try new things and schedule time to reflect rather than seek perfection.
  • I prefer to lead from the back, not the front (see “Empowering my team”, above). I’d rather that others on the team represent their work directly, though I’m happy to step in to drive or drum up excitement for something myself. If you see situations where you think it’d be helpful for me to lead from the front, please say so!
  • I prefer to be overinformed, as long as it doesn’t create extra work for you. I like to be on noisy mailing lists and Slack channels; it’s an opportunity for me to build context. However, please don’t assume that I read everything that’s sent.
  • I try my best to respect the geographic and timezone differences of those in other offices. I’ve spent the majority of my career working for companies in other cities, and I’ve felt the pain very directly myself. If something we’re doing isn’t inclusive for those on VC or in another office, please speak up!
  • If something needs my attention, a direct message (email or Slack) is preferred to a blast email or passing line in a group chat. I’ll usually respond quickly, even when I’m not in the office. Worst case, feel free to text or call.
  • I manage my own interrupts. Please don’t be shy if you need my attention, either in-person or via messaging. If I need to focus, I’ll silence notifications or work away from my desk and get back to you when I can.
  • I hold regular office hours in case you’d like to discuss anything at all. Again, don’t be shy!
  • I have a family with small children, which often limits my time in the office. However, I’m often back online after bedtime. I’ve also significantly increased my daily caffeine intake in the last couple of years. Not a coincidence.

Fun facts

  • 🌉 I grew up in San Francisco, lived in New York for ten years, and moved back in 2019.
  • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 L and I have two little kids: L and F.
  • 🗽 With a few others, I opened Dropbox NYC in 2014 and was its first site lead for five years.
  • 🚴 I prefer to bicycle to work whenever I can; we’ll see if I’m able to keep it up in SF.
  • 🖖 Until I watched all of DS9, TNG was clearly the best Star Trek. Now I’m not so sure.
  • 🎸 I love playing music and hope to spend at least some time in The Mint!
F = asleep
F = asleep
F = asleep
Cookies from my Dropbox NYC going-away party
I played in a Pearl Jam cover band in New York for many years
SF bike commutes are warmer than some NYC bike commutes

Note: I’m wearing a hat in these photos more than I normally do. Also, I swear that I have other hats.

March 30, 2021 04:00 AM

March 29, 2021

Certainly Strange

Prototyping Tal Shiar Uniform

I’ve decided to start prototyping STO’s Tal Shiar uniform. I’m still going through the drafting/prototyping process, but I won’t be able to put off the quilting forever…

by Steen at March 29, 2021 07:10 AM

Doctor Popular

Another 3D printed mini-parklet on Mission Street

Just got back from a bike ride in the Mission and we spotted this wonderful 3D printed garden on a lamp post in front of Mission Comics. The art was created by Mission Mini-Parklet, who I had talked about previously on this blog.

Also in that video is glimpse of Jeremy Fish’s rad new mural on Wes Burger.

And here is my interview with Zach from Mission Mini-Parklet

The post Another 3D printed mini-parklet on Mission Street appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at March 29, 2021 04:17 AM

Randy Lubin

Serious(ish) Games: Hindsight 2030

Back in November 2020, I teamed up with Mike Masnick and Leigh Beadon to run a light and silly foresight game called Hindsight 2030. Our goal was to make a fun game to play in under an hour, perfect for a happy hour at the end of a long week – we succeeded!

The core loop was simple – each team picks a headline from 2030 and then develops a series of 5 headlines that get us from today to that future situation. Then, each team presents their arc with everyone and we all guess what happens next. Here was our example version:

![2021: Copyright bill compromises DNS system, adds harsh new penalties for file-sharers

2023: Can copyright infringement disqualify you from UBI? The courts are split

2025: Pirate Party wins first US victories on promises of open internet revival

2027: Invalidation of SpaceX patents ushers in age of hobbyist nano-satellites

2029: SatTorrent protocol sparks panic in Hollywood, author still a mystery

2030: Massive lawsuit threatens Pirate Party’s satellite broadband network](

While designing the game, we had a fun time brainstorming the initial 2030 Headline prompts ahead of time. The prompts focused on future tech intersecting with social or regulatory trends. We ended up with 27 prompts (3 options per table) that covered an array of futures…


Some of the 2030 headlines:

  • Programmers sue for royalties after AI author wins Hugo Award for best scifi novel
  • Government declines to investigate Amazon’s sea-based fulfillment centers, says they’re outside US jurisdiction
  • Town votes to recall AI mayor following budget crisis

Our players were a blast; they took the prompts in directions that were varying combinations of insightful, funny, and frightening This game was a hit and we’ll definitely be designing more games in a similar vein!

Back in November 2020, I teamed up with Mike Masnick and Leigh Beadon to run a light and silly foresight game called Hindsight 2030. Our goal was to make a fun game to play in under an hour, perfect for a happy hour at the end of a long week – we succeeded!

March 29, 2021 03:58 AM

I before E except Gleitzman

Prodigious PyTorch Processing with Python

Back in the day, when you wanted to get some data into Python, it was easy enough to load the whole .csv or .txt file into memory, do the kind of operations you needed, and be done with it. Then came generators and streaming formats for stuff that wouldn’t quite fit into RAM. Nowadays, even lazy iterators can fail you from time to time, especially when dealing with big data and resource constrained machines, like Google Colab.

Let’s say you want to load a couple gigs of numerical data, process it in some manner, and then load it into a PyTorch Dataset, all with a Google Colab. Enter HDF5, a fast binary data format that you can keep on disk. Sure, it’s not RAM but with most training jobs your bottleneck is probably going to elsewhere.

The code below will process a really large CSV file, convert it into the HDF5 data format, extract some data labels from that format, and then load it into your PyTorch Dataset.

import h5py
import numpy as np

import subprocess

# You can load files right from GDrive (!)
csv_filepath = "./drive/MyDrive/my_big_data.csv"
h5_filepath = "./my_big_data_on_disk.h5"
# this is just a random large number, this size of data (short strings)
#   doesn't take much RAM, not even sure we have to read it in chunks at all
chunksize = 1000 * 10000

# hacky way of reading the length of the file without opening it
num_lines = subprocess.check_output(['wc', '-l', csv_filepath])
num_lines = int(num_lines.split()[0])

# h5 is a format you can read from without loading up the data in memory
#   so it's perfect for huge datasets

# NOTE: this will take a minute or so
with h5py.File(h5_filepath, 'w') as h5f:
    # use num_features if the csv file has no column header
    texts = h5f.create_dataset("text",
    labels = h5f.create_dataset("label",

    # read num_lines in chunks of size chunksize
    for i in range(1, num_lines, chunksize):

        df = pd.read_csv(
          header=None, # we ignore the header by starting the loop from row 1

        titles = df.values[:, 1]
        some_label = _generate_label(df.values[:, 2])

        items_num = len(titles)

        # this fills in the current chunk of the h5 file
        texts[i-1:i-1+items_num] = titles
        labels[i-1:i-1+items_num] = some_label

# Pytorch loader to consume the HDF5
class QueryDataset(Dataset):
  def __init__(self, filename):
    h5f = h5py.File(filename, 'r')
    self.titles = h5f["text"]
    self.labels = h5f["label"]

  def __len__(self):
    return self.titles.shape[0]

  def __getitem__(self, i):
    # now the cool bit - read without loading the whole thing in memory!
    title = self.titles[i]
    label = self.labels[i].astype('bool')
    encoded = tokenizer(title, truncation=True, padding=True)

    return encoded, label

# Now let's use it!
dataset = QueryDataset('./my_big_data_on_disk.h5')
# This seemingly redundant collate_fn param actually helps avoid a RuntimeError
dataloader = DataLoader(dataset, batch_size=256, num_workers=2,
                        collate_fn=lambda x: x) 

Never feel anxiety about building classifiers with a large dataset again. A big thanks to Alessandro Marin for the hot tip and Shantanu Verma for posing an interesting question. You can find the beginnings of a colab for building a howdoi language prediction system here.

March 29, 2021 02:16 AM

Vivek Sri

Word of the Day: Machine

A machine is an assemblage of parts that move together to make something happen. I’m trying to make this post happen. The machine I’m using is called a Macbook Pro, but know this is an amateur effort.

Apple doesn’t call it a machine, of course. They prefer book. A notebook. You know, a $5,000 CNC-machined writing pad. A Macbook has exactly two things in common with a notebook: its ability to fold open and its inability to swim. But a notebook isn’t a machine. It’s a canvas. A machine has parts. Individually each part is insignificant; in concert they do things you cannot do.

In this case, turn words into electrons and fire them into outer space. (I think that’s how the web works.) That is what computers do.

I use another machine to produce these words: a typewriter. Unlike my designed in California panini of glass and metal, I can see how this machine’s parts move. If my Macbook makes noise something’s wrong. My typewriter does nothing but make noise. It’s the quiet that makes you uneasy. Each hammer-slapped letter against the platen is a slow clap cheering you on. Spap! Spap! Ding! When the hammers applaud, that’s the sound of being in flow.

Our family got a typewriter when I was 10 years old. My mom was re-entering the workforce, so my dad lugged home a powder blue IBM Selectric the size of a three-year-old child. Our house had never seen a machine like this. So business. So international. Instead of delicate hammers, a letter-covered sphere bopped words to the paper like a twisting fist.

IBM SelectricIBM Selectric

Then we upgraded to a Panasonic. The new model had correction tape to erase mistakes. It let you center text and type in bold. Innovation! I must be the only person in my family who read the instructions cover to cover.

As I kid I liked to play office. Probably because we had one, down in the basement. My dad’s desk held treasures: a leather satchel full of mechanical drafting tools, a T-square, a stapler, old drawings from his college days. A shrine to a person I’d never meet. By the time my sister and I were born, my dad worked at a bank. He didn’t draw anymore. Sometimes the folks who rear you are different from the ones who make you. Two people don’t just become parents, they become a parenting machine.

The typewriter was a way of life for centuries. Think about that. Our cellular phones transform every two years and render the previous models laughable and antique. When people talk about timeless design, never look to the tech industry. My current writing machine is an Olympia SM9 which still looks modern and elegant and is a delight to use. My old iPod won’t even turn on anymore.

Olympia SM9Olympia SM9

A typewriter and computer make writing happen differently.

Writing on a computer is like reading in a casino. It’s certainly possible. Once upon a time your PC noticed you were writing a letter and offered to help. Modern machines are more subtle in their distraction. A computer corrects your spelling and grammar before you have finished your thought. It lets you futz with typefaces and styles before you have made a point. It lets you publish your opinions to the planet, before you have made any sense. Imagine if every Tweet had to start on paper; we’d have a different world indeed.

A typewriter draws words out of you. It’s a kind of extrusion, pulling ideas out letter by letter in a delicate garland of thought. The process is as physical as it is intellectual and every finger punch is rewarded with a snap of fresh ink on paper. And there’s no backspace. The typewriter captures all mistakes but urges you forward anyway. It is a forgiving machine, because forgiveness is the essence of the creative process. So is patience. That is why the typewriter never prompts you. It waits and it works, unless it is out of ink.

And best of all, it does not use machine learning to figure out what I am trying to say. That’s my job. That is why I sat down to write in the first place.

by Word of the Day: Machine at March 29, 2021 01:54 AM


How to auto-paginate a DynamoDB Scan using an async generator

How to auto-paginate a DynamoDB Scan using an async generator

March 29, 2021 01:00 AM

March 28, 2021


These mugs are testing a new satin glaze I’ve been testing. I...

These mugs are testing a new satin glaze I’ve been testing. I like how they turned out, although I think they’d benefit from a short second dip next time. The thickness variation adds a rustic vibe that I don’t hate, but I think I’d prefer it more uniform.
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

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I Like Turtles

The need for speed


March 28, 2021 04:00 AM

travis vachon

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I recently finished a big batch of mugs. Most of them have found...

I recently finished a big batch of mugs. Most of them have found their homes (or are on the way!) but reach out if you want one, there are still a few stragglers. ⁠

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

March 27, 2021 04:20 PM